Mary Nguyen Aregoni
Pho has expanded from a Vietnamese street food into a comforting Asian soup embraced by American consumers. At Saigon Sisters, one of Chicago’s most authentic Vietnamese restaurants, the kitchen simmers roasted beef bones with aromatic spices, charred onions and a piece of brisket to give the broth a rich, meaty flavor. To serve, the soup is ladled over rice noodles and topped with a small amount of cooked brisket, fresh herbs, scallions and bean sprouts.
3 yellow onions, grilled and charred
3 pieces gingerroot, grilled and charred
5 lb. roasted beef soup bones
5 star anise
6 whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
2 cardamom pods
2 lb. beef brisket
1/2 tbsp. salt
5 tbsp. fish sauce
1 oz. yellow rock sugar or granulated sugar
1 lb. fresh banh pho noodles or dry rice noodles
Cooked beef brisket, sliced thinly
Scallions, green part only, cut into thin rings
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
Ground black pepper, to taste
Fresh bean sprouts, for garnish
Thai basil, for garnish
Cilantro, for garnish
Sliced jalapenos, for garnish
Lime, for garnish
1. Place roasted beef bones in stockpot (minimum 12-quart capacity) and cover with cold water. Over high heat, bring to boil; reduce heat to low and gently simmer. Use ladle to skim any scum that rises to surface.
2. Add remaining broth ingredients and cook, uncovered, for 2 hours. Take brisket out to cool, and then refrigerate. Allow broth to continue cooking. In total, broth should simmer 5 hours.
3. Strain pho broth through fine strainer. Discard solids.
4. Use ladle to skim as much fat from top of pho broth. Taste and adjust flavor with additional salt, fish sauce and sugar. Pho broth should taste slightly too strong because noodles and other ingredients are not salted.
5. To serve, divide noodles among bowls. Slice cooked beef brisket thinly and place slices on top of cooked noodles. Garnish with onion, scallions and chopped cilantro. Finish with black pepper.
6. Bring broth to rolling boil. Ladle broth into each bowl over cooked noodles. Serve pho with garnish plate.
Photo courtesy of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association